When prepping a home for regular wheelchair use, installing wheelchair ramps to access entryways into the house takes precedence.
Today’s market (online and in-store) provides a seemingly endless list of wheelchair ramp options; however, only a select few makes and models will suit an individual’s unique needs.
Where do caregivers and family members start? This blog will help older adults and their loved ones navigate the world of wheelchair ramps, particularly design and material options such as wood and aluminum frames. Additional information includes a list of pros/cons for using either material and how to determine which ramp is right for the user.
- Solid, sturdy material
- Built on site, which makes for customized cuts, angles, and curves much easier
- May be cheaper than other material options
- Can be painted any color to better match the home
- Relatively cheap to make minor repairs
- Solid, sturdy material comes with pre-determined, accessibility compliant measurements
- More weather-resistant than wooden ramps
- Can be disassembled and taken with the user if a move should occur
- Can come textured or meshed to prevent puddling and slipping
- Pre-designated weight capacity which means the user will already know if the ramp will support their weight and their chair.
Next, let’s discuss a basic game plan for caregivers who don’t quite know where to start to get a ramp installed:
- Talk to the professionals: Some of the most relevant people to ask advice about wheelchair ramp installation are doctors, therapists, and medical equipment providers. Deciding to install a wheelchair ramp can happen because of an unexpected medical incident or because “it was a long time coming”. Medical professionals are highly trained in environmental modifications and can offer basic advice about where to start. Schedule a free consultation here.
- Research and consult with local medical equipment companies: Hop on the computer or the phone and consult with medical equipment companies in your area who specialize in wheelchair ramps. Ask about how the entry to the home will be assessed, how much installing a ramp would cost, what materials would be best to use, and how long it would take to get a ramp finished for use. There are a few home improvement departments stores who offer wheelchair ramp installation services; however, some of these stores might not sell actual ramps and may require customers to purchase ramps from other sellers.
- Assess place of residence: If you are installing a ramp at a private residence that the user owns, then there’s no hoops to jump through. If you are trying to install a ramp at an apartment complex, a rental, or other living environment that is not owned by the ramp user, then calls need to be made. It never hurts to try because some landlords and building managers are looking for ways to improve accessibility for renters. Additionally, evaluate the outdoor surfaces that the ramp will be placed: cement, sedentary rock, clay, grass, or sand to account for any shifting in the ramp foundation.
- Work out the budget: Create an honest sum of what you can afford. The longer the wheelchair ramp, the more expensive materials and supplies will be.
- Decide between homemade and professionally installed ramp options: After you’ve familiarized yourself with a wide variety of wheelchair ramp options, decide how installation will play out. Medical equipment provider companies who carry wheelchair ramps will offer professional ramp installation services that includes accurately measuring the property and entryway for optimal installation. If you or other friends/family have contracting experience, the homemade ramps and personal installation may be in option if either can be safely carried out.
Do your research, make sure that the ramp user is engaged in the decision-making process, and consult with professionals before committing to any major installation plans for a wheelchair ramp.